Making Home Show Marketing Work for You

Making Home Show Marketing Work for You
Footbridge Media
Footbridge Media April 4, 2014

In the construction and home improvement market, competition is heavy. As you and your rival contractors fight through the noise to reach your audience, you'll probably find yourself looking at whatever means is affordable to construct a marketing plan. One shimmering beacon of hope is the local home show.

Every season many metropolitan areas are host to a home construction and improvement convention commonly referred to as a "home show". This is where an auditorium is packed out with booths from various companies promoting everything that has anything to do with the subject. The attendees are typically homeowners that are interested in home improvement.

Getting a booth at the home show allows you to be one of the presenters of your product or service to a crowd of potentially thousands. It is true you will be presenting alongside several dozen other booths, many who will be offering competing services, but there is one major advantage. Your brand will be put in front of an entire auditorium full of your target audience. This isn't like hanging fliers on doors in a neighborhood; all of these people are at the home show because they at least have SOME interest in improving their home. It's like a sea of leads just rushing in through a dam.

Just purchasing your booth and showing up isn't going to guarantee you success, however. If you handle this opportunity wrong, you could end up spending hundreds, or even thousands of dollars and seeing no return. The home show is just another marketing avenue, and needs to be carefully planned just like the rest of your customer acquisition efforts. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your home show:

Setting Up

  • First, get to the auditorium early. Friday is typically the set up day. Arrive as soon as they start letting people in so you can pick your spot. This way you can get a good layout of the land and determine the most strategic place for your booth to be. You may also want to wait around a bit to see where others will set up...but getting there early gives you that option.
  • Try to be in an area near complimenting services. Again, this will take you getting to the auditorium early and then patiently waiting to see where others will be setting up. If you can strategically place yourself next to a service that compliments yours, the two booths will synergistically work together capturing people's attention.
  • Properly train your people. Once you have set up, you are only halfway there. You and your people need to be prepared with a rehearsed script. It is like you are in a play. Everyone needs to know their lines.

Your Marketing Material

  • Be creative. As you look at your empty booth table and imagine what material you will fill it with, let your mind move beyond just brochures. Think magnets and pens and other such items people will want to use that keeps putting your brand in front of them.
  • Pick a specialization. You are probably a very talented remodeler, electrician, plumber and roofer, but it may not behoove you to advertise all of your skills at once. At a home show, even though you have a mass of target audience, you want to filter out the ones there for a specific reason. If you can capture them, you may very well land a sale. The best way to do that is by being specific. If you have a HVAC and plumbing business and its spring, you can focus on educating people on the importance of an air conditioning tune-up before the summer season. If you're a pressure washing company and its winter, you can focus your marketing on ice dam removal.
  • Have a display item. Having something to show people, or even better if they can touch it, grabs people's attention. The more unique it is the better. This can be anything from simply a gutter guard covered in leaves showing its effectiveness in protecting the rain gutter to having a plasma globe to illustrate how electricity works. You may even have a fully functioning miniature model home with plumbing and electricity.
  • Make it fun. Everybody should be upbeat and having a good time. You can even give out candy or treats if you like for the kids. Some have even hired magicians. It is entirely up to you, but as long as everyone looks happy, people will be more inclined to engage.

Working the Booth

  • Always be professional. Even though you are having fun, you are there to work. Make sure nobody sits down on the job. No eating in the booth either. Everyone should be in matching branded shirts. This will ensure your image remains professional while you and your team remain active.
  • Have clipboards and get contact information. You want to be able to follow up with your home show leads. After all, sometimes it may take months to get somebody to a buying decision. Maybe you could have a special treat (like a calendar or something) for people who give you their info. People are often motivated by gifts.
  • Massively incentivize your goal. Whatever you are after, whether it's just contact info, or an on the spot estimate, or a scheduled estimate, or even the sale, give a major incentive for it. You have to make people think "this deal is too good to pass up. I have to take advantage of this NOW."

Things That Make Trade Show Marketing FAIL

  • Lack of clear goals. It is important to know what you are after. If you don't know, how can you possibly hope to get it, much less your staff?
  • Failure to adequately train your staff. If you throw your staff to the wolves unprepared, they won't be very effective. They need a script, an elevator pitch or whatever else will aid them in obtaining exactly what it is they're supposed to be after, or they simply won't perform.
  • No follow up. This is the death of any marketing plan. You cannot collect leads and then not follow up. Most home improvement is not an impulse buy, so the majority of your leads will not be making a buying decision on the spot. They will make that decision though, and by following up you can ensure it is you they give their business too.

Home shows can be extremely lucrative for the prepared contractor, regardless of whether you are brand new or have been around for years. Having a strategy in place will help ensure your success.

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